All IT workers have to start somewhere. Usually, it’s the bottom- as a Junior something. And I’ll be honest- the bottom isn’t all that fun.
When you’re the new IT guy or gal (aka Junior), you usually get tasked with -let’s face it- crappy jobs.
Pulling cable. Removing cable. The dreaded PHYSICAL INVENTORY.
BUT being Junior has distinct advantages that you will miss if you try to “grow up” too quickly.
You can get paid to learn
When you’re new in IT, everyone knows it. You’re know so little that you actually turn green. This fact – you know, the part about you not knowing a firewall rule from a hole in the ground – is no mystery to your new employer.
And guess what? They hired you anyway. You still get paid! Ha! Joke’s on them!
But all joking aside, the company/boss/whatever knows that they will have to train in all things IT. Paying inexperienced IT people in the hopes that they will one day figure out how to use all of the monitors in a Remote Desktop session (it’s mstsc /span, by the way) and tell all the old timers and make that problem go away forever- is a business expense.
The idea that they can train juniors their way, however, is also very attractive. Feel good about getting paid to learn.
It can still be someone else’s fault
When you work on complex systems under more senior techs, they ultimately take responsibility for your work early on. It’s like an extra layer of protection over you. You also get to see a lot of bad habits- habits you will hopefully avoid.
You can also learn really good habits- and have them reinforced- from the senior techs. Some of these good habits include
- Creating clear and useful documentation
- Writing good, concise ticket notes
- Dealing with tough end-users
- Principles of troubleshooting
- Handling IT crises
- Communicating with senior executives
If you screw up under their watchful eye, the senior folks will help you 1) fix it and 2) prevent it from happening next time. I find it beautiful to watch Systems Engineers that know their stuff fixing things. Just be glad it’s not you… yet.
It keeps you humble
No one likes a know-nothing IT know-it-all.
This is really easy for Junior folks to fall into once you get a little experience under your belt. I’ve been guilty of this one many times, and I think we all know one or two times another person has gotten this way.
Personally, I struggle with this sometimes. I know a few things, but there are people my age that have been in IT now for over 16 years (since high school) that are so far ahead of me. It makes me feel inadequate, like I’m late to the party, or that the IT ship has sailed. I’m sure others feel this way, too.
The result is posturing. Or spouting pseudo-IT rubbish. Neither of which endear your peers and seniors to you. They are smarter than that, and they will let you hang yourself with your words.
To combat this in my own life, I have a simple little reminder for me every day. It comes up whenever I open PowerShell on my laptop:
There is such power in admitting that you don’t know something. It’s actually liberating. You don’t have to pretend or act like you have all the answers.